Lake San Marcos
Lake San Marcos

I recently made my very first trip up to San Marcos (45 minutes northeast of downtown San Diego) to visit the super charming Lake San Marcos. This man-made lake is a little over one mile long and is perfect for recreational activities like boating and fishing. You can rent speedboats, pontoons, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, fishing boats and poles from The Marina at Lake San Marcos for a fun day on the water. They also organize a sunset cruise with drinks and snacks every Friday and Saturday night.

The Marina at Lake San Marcos
The Marina at Lake San Marcos

At the center of the lake is an illuminated water feature that changes colors at night. There are two nearby golf courses and a hotel, Lakehouse Hotel & Resort that overlooks the water. Being there makes me nostalgic for my high school days when I spent my summers on Lake Glenville in North Carolina.

Decoy Dockside Dining
Decoy Dockside Dining

Set against the shoreline of Lake San Marcos is the spacious new two-story restaurant Decoy Dockside Dining. The outdoor bar overlooks the water, while upstairs in the formal dining room there are great views of the lake and cozy fireplaces. The restaurant opened last summer following a multi-million dollar renovation. Decoy is reminiscent of an upscale hunting lodge, which matches their menu featuring game meats and seafood, including wild boar, bison, venison, arctic char and branzino.

Decoy dining room
Decoy dining room

The wine list at Decoy is fantastic, and includes a few of my favorite lesser-known wineries. You can get it by the glass, half-bottle, bottle or magnum. I selected a red blend to go with the savory bacon-wrapped dates and sweet cast iron cornbread appetizers. The cornbread (that actually has kernels of corn in it) comes with bacon jam, jalapeño jelly and honey butter for spreading. Both apps are fantastic and make you want to try more of the menu.

Cast iron cornbread and bacon-wrapped dates
Cast iron cornbread and bacon-wrapped dates

Ask about the local catch if you’re in the mood for seafood. I got swordfish that came with this yummy parsnip puree – a welcomed change from traditional mashed potatoes. For a leaner cut of meat that resembles beef, try the bison New York steak topped with an earthy chimichurri sauce.

Swordfish special with parsnip puree
Swordfish special with parsnip puree

Don’t skip the tasty side dishes at Decoy, like the crispy Brussels sprouts with pecan-rosemary butter; grilled broccolini with garlic, romesco sauce and bread crumbs; or wild mushrooms with smoked truffle butter and herbs.

Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and broccolini
Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and broccolini

For dessert, nosh on the goat’s milk panna cotta with port-poached pears and almond granola, or the deconstructed coconut cake with white chocolate mousse and huckleberry. You may also want to sip on an after-dinner cocktail while getting comfortable by the fireplace. Sit and stay awhile.

Goat's milk panna cotta
Goat’s milk panna cotta
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